An e-mail I wrote to my closest family and friends on August 31 last year, right before boarding my flight from HKG to JFK:
Tomorrow I will be flying to the other side of the world for school, this time alone–no boyfriend, no close family and only about three friends in the city. But it all feels great, and I can’t believe that after so much anticipation and excitement, I will finally and really be a masters student in New York tomorrow.
After sending out all my graduate applications in the first week of the new year, I began 2010 with one simple resolution–to accept defeat with grace, as I did not know what the new decade would bring. But I felt like a quitter, since just as everything was coming together in January, I made the rash decision to pack my bags in 10 days and go home for an indefinite period of time. Part of it was simply being tired and ashamed of unemployment, and part of it was just the need to be near family again. But despite the defeat I felt, there was not one person that did not support my decision, including the important people I left behind. And very soon after arriving, I was granted the opportunity to take on a different career path as a design critic.
As uncertain as the past 6 months in Hong Kong were, they were extremely worth it. In this short period of time, I battled and gained more than I expected. I had to face and overcome my fear of injections three times this summer (and if you know me well, you’d know this definitely ranks as one of my top fears in life), I gained new appreciation and skills in leather crafts, wrote about design for one of my favourite blogs, and I learned what it was like to be a graphic designer while finding meaningful company among so many talented people at my workplace. I had time to see old friends again, rediscover Hong Kong as my home, confirm my directions in life, and probably most crucially, demonstrate and reassure my family that I needed to be somewhere else to accomplish the things I wanted for my career. The chance to come home in between my two degrees was the refresher I needed… Hong Kong will always be home so it is obviously difficult to leave, but it gets easier each time knowing life holds adventures for me elsewhere.
Despite the fact that my family have not always approved of design as the ideal career, I am thankful that they have never denied me opportunities, always supporting my ambitions financially and constantly providing me with what I needed to succeed. As a friend of mine wrote: “not everyone has the opportunity and privilege to come to New York to pursue their path in the first place, and not everyone has the privilege to leave behind their family to create a life apart from them.” Not everyone has family that loves so unconditionally like mine does.
So this is it, tomorrow I will arrive in New York–a city that I hope is an eclectic mix of the past two cities I’ve lived in. I will finally be able to enjoy East coast culture and independence from Toronto, without giving up the vibrance, pace and urban lifestyle of Hong Kong. I am particularly excited to move into my new home in Manhattan with my lovely roommate. After the 9 roommates I had during my undergrad residence, I know it is rare and hardly easy to find someone bearable to share your living space with. So I already feel at ease knowing that I will have good company as I build my new life in New York.
Lastly, thank you for reading so much and being an influential part of the story so far. Knowing how easy it was to keep in touch with Skype, phonecalls, e-mails and 29481429 other social media outlets in the last 5 years, I have no doubt I will be able to keep those that I want close to me. I can honestly say right now that I have never felt my life was fuller. I assure you that the feeling of wanting something for so long and being so close to having it become reality is extremely rewarding and I hope you find the same feeling too.
Lots of lots of Love,
PS. If you are still confused about what Design Criticism is, I will have a clearer explanation when I experience it myself very soon :P
Tomorrow I will have lived in New York for a year. It feels like I’ve been here much longer than that, and I feel I’ve already outdone the initial goals I had for myself when I arrived. What a wonderful year it’s been. And now, onwards to thesis year!